The blog of photographer Kim Ayres

Was it too easy?

Jesse and Helen became parents to their son, Auryn, about 4 months ago, and last week I was introduced to him when I went out to visit.

2 days earlier a woman browsing the nearby shelves of the bookshop I was in could barely suppress her amusement as she overheard my conversation on the phone to Maggie, seeking advice while I was staring at endless books for babies and toddlers, trying to work out a gift to take with me.

However, as well as arriving at their house with a copy of the board book version of "Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes" by Mem Fox and‎ Helen Oxenbury, of course I took my camera.

After cups of tea and conversations catching up on all that had been happening in the past 8 months or so, I finally pulled out the camera.

It all felt just a little too easy.

They were all relaxed in the comfort of the familiar surroundings of their own home and Auryn was full of smiles. Although it was an overcast day, they had large windows letting in plenty of natural light. All I had to do was give the smallest amount of direction, line up the camera and click.

Pictures of Helen with Auryn, Jesse with Auryn, and the 3 of them together just poured into the camera with ease.

Back home I edited up a selection of around 10 of the best, dropping them into black and white to give that timeless feel.

I was pleased with the way they turned out, and Jesse and Helen were delighted with the photos, but I found myself feeling the whole thing had been a bit too easy, and in turn feared it somehow devalued what I'd done.

I guess it's drummed into us from a young age that the harder we work at something, the more worthy it is. That argument can be demolished easily without too much thought, but the ingrained feeling still remains.

The fact is I would loved to have had some photos like that of me and Maggie when our children were babies. These are the kinds of images that grow more and more precious as time passes. Now, 20 years later, their value would be beyond priceless. But back then I didn't have a friend who was competent with a camera, so one of us (usually me) would be the one holding it, and I didn't have the skills I have now.

Maggie had to point out to me, while I was having my existential crisis, that while it may have been easy now, it wasn't always. If I'd attempted a shoot like this even a few years ago I would have been riven with self doubt, and struggled to work out the best positions, lighting and compositions. And my hit rate of successful images would have been considerably less.

It's causing me to reflect on where I'm trying to go with my photography.

Over the past few years I've been throwing myself into bigger and more complicated photo shoots whenever possible – putting together small teams of people to create ever more ambitious images (Just wait until you see the one I did for Dumfries and Galloway Blood Bikes, which involved dozens of bikers and being raised up in a cherry picker).

While there's no doubt I enjoy the challenge of creating complex images beyond anything I've done before, I think I've been forgetting how much I love the intimate, deeply personal photography.

These kind of photos might not now be as challenging to create on a technical level, but making the personal connection to help relax the person in front of the camera – working with them to create something they will love now and will mean so much more as the years pass – this is the most rewarding feeling of all.


Ponita in Real Life said...

These are lovely photos, Kim! And yes, as we get more skilled at something, it does feel too easy at times. That just means you are getting really good at what you do! But that definitely does not negate the worth of this priceless photoshoot you did for your friends.

daisyfae said...

Stunning photos, and as you said, they will increase in value exponentially over time!

Something to remember also - your decades of experience, training, practice, trial-and-error are part of what made it feel easy. i couldn't have walked in and then had the same result.

Similar experience at work one day. There was some bureaucratic response required to something fairly significant. The youngsters in the office, and even my boss, were a bit anxious, and planning a follow up meeting. i looked at the problem, offered a first cut draft response in real time, scratched it out on a notebook, with some blanks left for numbers and details i'd have to research, and said "i think this answers the mail." They were stunned, and appreciative.

It wasn't what i did in that moment that made it easy. It was what i had done in the 30+ years of doing this kinda crap that made it easy.

hope said...

Honestly, your talent aside, I think it was because you looked through a lens of love. Thank you for sharing what you saw.

Kim Ayres said...

Ponita, Dasiyfae and Hope - thank you for your kind words and thoughts. It's reminded me of what my artist father used to say when people asked him how long it took to do one of his paintings. His reply was "50 years" :)

neena maiya (guyana gyal) said...

These photos are simply wonderful, Kim. You know you've done it right when a stranger far away from this family, feels love for them.

Sometimes...I don't know if this makes sense...but some of our most precious created effortlessly.

Kim Ayres said...

Neena - well it certainly helps when the baby is in a good mood :)

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